Swelling and pain are common after foot injury or surgery. Gravity is not a podiatrist’s best friend. After insult to a lower extremity, the vasculature gets larger in order to send increased blood flow and starts the healing process to the injured area.
Many times, patients are informed to ice the injured area directly, however many times this can cause increased discomfort due to the pressure of the ice pack pushing on the painful area. Also, the cold can irritate skin and nerves because there usually isn’t as much soft tissue coverage in this area.
After larger surgeries, we may place patients in casts or splints where ice cannot be placed directly on the area of injury. Elevation of the injured extremity above the heart helps eliminate gravity’s effect of pulling blood down to the foot and leg. Icing behind the knee allows for more comfort as there is more padding behind the knee. It will also cool the muscles and tendons that attach all the way down on the foot.